Not so long ago, mention travelling to India and you’d expect to be fighting through crowds in a chaotic country with long lines, frequent traffic jams and a public transportation system only adventurous travellers would be game to tackle. That’s no longer the case as India is fast progressing its infrastructure with the rollout of its Smart Cities project. Imagine a city where everything is connected, where you use your smartphone to pay for public transportation, find a parking spot or even order food from wherever you are, access Wi-Fi from anywhere in the city, and do much more. According to the Smart Cities project, hundreds of cities in India will offer these.
The Smart Cities Mission aims to develop cities by integrating technology and smart solutions like Information and communication technology (ICT), Internet of Things (IoT), data analytics, artificial intelligence and automation to improve urban services and infrastructure. Smart solutions are employed for efficient energy management, intelligent transportation systems, smart grids, waste management, and public safety through retrofitting legacy infrastructure with new ones, redeveloping and sometimes doing a greenfield project from scratch. By becoming Smart, every area you visit will be using technology to improve the quality of life by reducing traffic congestion, improving air quality, and providing better access to education and healthcare.
Based on a countrywide competition a few years ago, 100 cities across India were chosen to become smart cities. Of the 100 cities being developed, 22 have already completed all the ongoing projects and are ready to be called Smart Cities. The remaining 78 cities are also expected to complete its projects by the end of 2023. You’ll be amazed at how technology is transforming these cities into modern, sustainable, liveable and easy-to-explore places.
- Cities in India
Cities in India
If you only have time for one tour, make it the Four-Day Private Luxury Golden Triangle Tour to Agra and Jaipur. Otherwise, if you’re planning to visit other cities in India, read on.
22 Smart Cities in India
Agra is part of the Golden Triangle of tourism, including New Delhi, Jaipur and Agra.
If there is one monument in India that everyone knows, it’s the magnificent Taj Mahal.
One of the World’s Seven Wonders, the Taj Mahal alone is worth visiting Agra for, but with the city’s improved infrastructure and clean surroundings, Agra has much more appeal.
If you visited Agra before 2015 and are re-visiting now, you’ll realise how much has changed in this smart city.
Congested roads and not-so-great infrastructure have been upgraded or freshly built.
You can enjoy a state-of-the-art metro system, better air quality, and better and safer public infrastructure.
Compared to your previous visit, you’ll notice an efficiently managed smart power grid, street lighting and environmental initiatives such as a ban on plastic bags and many trees.
Visit the impressive Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri, for views of the Taj Mahal from a distance.
Another way to enjoy the Taj Mahal is to cruise the Yamuna River and admire it from the water.
If you’re travelling with kids, a visit the Agra Bird Park is a great way to spend some time.
And don’t forget to taste the delightfully sweet Agra Petha and the mutton kebabs prepared in Mughlai cuisine, which Agra is famous for.
If there’s one city with great historical and cultural significance for Indians, it’s Varanasi.
If you’re revisiting Varanasi, you are in for a surprise, as the city has seen tremendous change in the past few years.
From cleaner and greener surroundings to better transport infrastructure, the city is a perfect example of how smart solutions and technology can improve quality of life.
Before Varanasi became a smart city, you could see a city with decades-old infrastructure, overburdened waste management and haphazard traffic leading to congestion and delays.
The government’s smart city initiatives, like traffic management systems, intelligent waste management practices, and improved public transportation, have resulted in efficient healthcare services and sustainable practices.
A visit to Varanasi will immerse you in a spiritual atmosphere of sacred riverside ghats on the Ganges and ancient temples.
Kashi Vishwanath Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is one of India’s most visited temples, while the mesmerising Ganga Aarti (ritual worship of the Ganges) will be etched in your memory.
Taking a boat ride along the Ganges during sunrise or sunset is a magical experience.
Explore the old city’s narrow lanes lined with houses, bustling markets, traditional crafts and street food stalls.
Don’t miss the mouthwatering Indian snacks like kachoris, samosas, chaats, and lassi and finish your meal with a traditional Banarasi paan, a betel leaf preparation with various sweet and savoury fillings.
If you like traditional Indian ethnic wear, shopping for a Banarasi saree in Varanasi must be on your to-do list.
One of the popular tourist cities in Rajasthan is Udaipur, the “City of Lakes”.
Home to many lakes, royal palaces and interesting customs, Udaipur is an opulent city that is especially popular among foreign tourists.
So many smart initiatives have been geared towards improving infrastructure and systems that make exploring easier for visitors.
Newer roads and public transport systems, improved security through new security cameras and personnel, and user-friendly and informative apps and websites are some tourist-friendly initiatives that are part of Udaipur’s smart city rollout.
A visit to Udaipur will take you through its majestic palaces and havelis (mansions), such as the magnificent City Palace, the regal Lake Palace inside a lake, and well-maintained gardens.
Udaipur’s scenic and serene lakes, like Lake Pichola, Fateh Sagar Lake, and Udai Sagar, are worth exploring, especially on a boat ride.
Udaipur is known for traditional handicrafts like miniature paintings, textiles, silver jewellery and colourful Rajasthani handicrafts.
A trip to this iconic city in India isn’t complete without savouring dishes like Daal Baati Churma, Gatte Ki Sabzi, Kachori and sweets like Ghewar and Malai Ladoo.
- Udaipur Sightseeing Tour – this tour will give you a highlight of Udaipur’s best attractions.
- Durga Cooking Class – don’t just eat, learn how to prepare local treats for when you go back home.
Bhopal, the capital city of Madhya Pradesh state, is a smart city that’s historical and modern in equal proportions.
The city has several natural and artificial lakes and is one of India’s greenest cities.
One of the most famous attractions in Bhopal is the magnificent Taj-ul-Masajid, one of the largest mosques in Asia.
You can also visit other impressive landmarks, such as the Gohar Mahal, the beautiful Upper Lake, and the archaeological site of Bhimbetka, which showcases prehistoric rock paintings.
Shop for traditional handicrafts in Bhopal’s old city, the Chowk, and delve into the city’s past by visiting the State Museum.
Since being selected for the Smart Cities Mission in 2015, Bhopal has seen significant development and integration of modern technology and infrastructure.
The city is now much easier to commute due to intelligent traffic management, has efficient waste management and improved safety due to advanced surveillance systems.
Bhopal is one of the best cities to taste the delightful Nawabi cuisine (others being Hyderabad and Lucknow).
The local cuisine is a tasty blend of Mughlai and regional flavours, resulting in a mouthwatering array of dishes like Bhopali Murgh Rezala and Bhopali Gosht Korma and delicious vegetarian options like Paneer Rezala and Sabz Navratan Korma.
- Excursion To Sanchi Stupa And Udayeshwara Temple – from Bhopal with lunch.
- Maheshwar Fort and River Banks temples – from Bhopal.
Indore is one of India’s cleanest cities.
Known as mini-Mumbai for its number of businesses, markets and entrepreneurial spirit, Indore is also one of the best-planned smart cities in India.
To taste Indore’s history and royalty, visit the Rajwada Palace and Lal Bagh Palace.
Indore is also famous for its exquisite temples, like the Kanch Mandir (Glass Temple) and the Annapurna Temple, but make sure you have the proper attire.
An already well-planned city, being a smart city, takes Indore to the next step with an efficient transportation system, environment-friendly waste management and technology integration into public life.
Almost every area in the city has automated surveillance, making Indore a safe city.
Smart parking solutions will surely make you appreciate the convenience and safety of Indore’s roads.
Taste Indore’s delightful street food in one of the many night markets like the Sarafa Night Food Market and Chhappan Dukan, a food market with 56 shops.
Indore’s vegetarian options, like Indori Poha, Sabudana Khichidi and Bhutte Ka Kees, and famous Indore-style chaats and sweet treats like Jalebi and Malpua, will make you crave more.
- Indore Local Tour – get insights into the city from a local.
- Heritage and History – Maheshwar Day Tour from Indore
Bhubaneswar lives up to its name, the “Temple City of India,” for good reason.
The city is home to over 500 Hindu temples and a popular cultural destination and a great place to explore the architectural styles of ancient India, including Kalinga, Nagara, Dravidian and Buddhist sites.
Before the city became “smart,” Bhubaneswar was already a busy tourist destination among domestic travellers.
Like other cities on this list, Bhubaneswar faced urban challenges related to traffic congestion and inadequate infrastructure.
Becoming a smart city helped the city through improved infrastructure, efficient transportation systems, intelligent traffic management, and waste management.
While many visited the city for its old-world charm, the quality of life improvements certainly makes Bhubaneswar worth visiting even more.
Being a temple city, your visit should include a trip to prominent temples like the Lingaraj Temple, an example of the Kalinga style of architecture, Mukteshwar Temple, Rajarani Temple and the Brahmeswar Temple.
If you like history, the Odisha State Museum has a good collection of artifacts, sculptures, and ancient manuscripts.
The Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves on the city’s outskirts will make you gasp at their intricately carved rock-cut caves.
If you love food, try the Odisha-style Chaat or satisfy your sweet cravings with the Chhena Poda and Rasabali.
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Chennai is a major port city in southern India in the state of Tamil Nadu that will give you a perfect South Indian experience.
With a characteristic cuisine, culture and climate, Chennai’s role as an important power centre is evident in its architecture and infrastructure.
Whether it is beautifully carved ancient temples, centuries-old buildings with exquisite architecture, museums, classical music and dance shows, or even the second-longest urban beach in the world, Chennai has a lot to keep you engaged.
Chennai got a much-needed makeover as a smart city.
Prior to 2015, the city’s legacy infrastructure and roads were stretched to the limit.
The smart city initiatives in Chennai have now made the city’s infrastructure and services more suitable to serve a larger population.
Travelling within Chennai is now a breeze with a much better transportation system, better traffic management, and a well-connected metro rail system.
A cleaner Chennai city and its beaches, like Marina Beach, make it more suitable for tourism activities, including leisurely walks and beachside activities.
To get a taste of traditional Chennai, you must visit the popular Kapaleeshwar Temple and Parthasarathy Temples and consume the delicious prasadams (a small portion of food served to devotees as a blessing from the temple deity).
To explore Chennai’s colonial history, visit Fort St. George, India’s oldest surviving British-built fort, or the iconic buildings of Chennai High Court and the Chepauk Palace.
Don’t miss the healthy and delicious South Indian cuisine with famous dishes like idli, dosa, and vada, and try the traditional South Indian meals served on banana leaves.
- Mahabalipuram & Kanchipuram in a day – from Chennai by private car with a guide.
- Small-Group Guided Food Trail – in the Sowcarpet Market Chennai
Coimbatore is a popular smart city in Southern India that’s a treat to visit.
The city serves as a base to explore the nearby Nilgiri hills and sees a lot of tourists who want to visit the famous hill station of Ooty.
Coimbatore is where natural beauty and cultural heritage go hand in hand.
Yet, it’s also one of India’s best transformed smart cities, completing the highest number of projects to upgrade its infrastructure.
Whether it is improved transport infrastructure, advanced surveillance systems, use of technology for smart governance, environment battery-operated garbage trucks or restored lakes, Coimbatore has seen a lot of improvements as a smart city.
If you heard the city’s nickname, “Manchester of South India”, you’ll know that Coimbatore is famous for its textile industry.
The panoramic Marudamalai Temple on a hilltop and the Dhyanalinga Temple, a spiritual centre dedicated to meditation, must be on your city itinerary for their calm and serene surroundings.
A visit to Coimbatore is incomplete without visiting the nearby hill stations of Ooty and Coonoor, which offer scenic beauty, tea plantations, and pleasant weather throughout the year.
You can also explore the Anamalai Tiger Reserve close to the city.
Try the delectable Coimbatore-style biryani for a taste of local cuisine.
- Isha Yoga Centre – a must-do experience in Coimbatore.
- Market Tour and Cooking Experience – learn to cook the local way.
Another smart city in Southern India is Erode, the best place to shop for handlooms, textiles and uniquely designed woven fabrics.
Erode’s rustic, small-town feel before 2015 came with the travails of a small town – a vibrant town with insufficient roads and infrastructure.
All that has changed now.
Erode is now a modern and well-planned city, offering better amenities and services to residents and visitors through better connectivity, well-laid-out markets, improved waste management and more accessible river banks and tourist places.
Stroll along the banks of the River Kaveri, visit the historical Erode Fort, and admire the architecture in Perumal Temple.
Try the famous Erode Halwa, a sweet dessert made from wheat and ghee, or taste savoury snacks like bajjis, vadais and bondas.
Ranchi fits the bill for a vacation where you can spend time near waterfalls.
Aptly named “City of waterfalls”, Ranchi is a great place to explore nature, take nature hikes and have a rejuvenating vacation.
The city’s tribal roots amidst a natural setting kept the city’s traditional infrastructure and legacy systems continuing for many years.
Becoming a smart city was the right opportunity for Ranchi to see the modernisation of traffic systems and technology for efficient governance and public services.
Ranchi’s 500-year-old Jagannath temple and the Pahari Mandir perched on a hilltop are perfect to catch your breath and enjoy the tranquillity.
Ranchi is also popular among cricketing fans for having one of the best sports infrastructures in India for cricket.
Locals love the sport so much that cricket is played in every neighbourhood.
If you want to know why Indians are so passionate about cricket, visit the JSCA International Stadium Complex for guided tours to get insights into the city’s love of the sport.
Enjoy the city’s tribal heritage by trying Dhuska, a fried snack made from rice flour, and Handia, a traditional rice beer or go for the local favourite streetfood litti-chokha.
Recommended tour: The best of Ranchi walking tour
A city that has roots going back thousands of years, Salem is a Southern Indian city with a fascinating history.
You’ll find many photo-worthy historical monuments and temples built centuries ago with unique architectural styles.
Having such a long history also means the city needed an upgrade of various traditional infrastructure, roads and buildings, some of which had been used for many decades.
Smart city initiatives include better sewage and rainwater plants, new and upgraded buildings in busy areas like markets, redevelopment of parks and new public spaces.
Visit the famous Kottai Mariamman Temple with its colourful sculptures and Sugavaneswarar Temple for its millennia-old sculptures dating back to the 13th century.
While textile shopping is a must, if you like Indian clothing, a break in Yercaud Hills will help you relax and rejuvenate.
While India is a major textile exporter, Surat tops the list for being the “Textile city of India”.
The city has been a prosperous trading hub since the 15th century, with iconic landmarks like Surat Castle, Sardar Patel Museum and the Dutch Garden offering a peek into the city’s history.
Surat’s continuous growth and bustling trading scene has seen a lot of legacy infrastructure and services needing upgrades.
The government’s smart initiatives have helped Surat get a makeover in that made it a cleaner, greener city with more organised and better-connected public and tourist places.
While the busy cloth and diamond markets continue to retain their charm, you’ll find it much easier to move around and enjoy the city’s attractions and experiences.
Admire the city view from a unique perspective by taking a boat ride along the Tapi River.
The famous Ambika Niketan Temple and the Chintamani Jain Temple will allow you to enjoy beautiful murals and sculptures while getting a glimpse into Hinduism and Jain cultures.
Surat is also a street food haven. You must try unique Gujarati street food, such as Locho, Khaman, and Surati Ghari.
A green city on the eastern coast of India, Visakhapatnam is a major port city with a unique charm.
While the striking hilly landscapes that dip into the sea merge with the waters of the Bay of Bengal, the coastal city is also home to ancient Buddhist sites.
Being selected for becoming a smart city has improved Visakhapatnam in several ways, including reduced traffic congestion, improved roads and transport infrastructure.
The city has always been a symbol of greenery, recent initiatives towards sustainable practices and better safety measures have made it even more tourist-friendly.
Visit Araku Valley, a popular day trip from the city known for its greenery, coffee plantations, and cascading waterfalls.
If you like water sports, the beaches of Rishikonda and Ramakrishna have a lot of water sports activities to enjoy.
Buddhist sites like the Thotlakonda Buddhist Complex and the Bavikonda Buddhist Complex are often crowded with foreigners and are of great archaeological importance.
Visit the Kailasagiri Hill Park, which offers panoramic views of the city and explore the Submarine Museum located within a decommissioned submarine to get a unique insight into the naval history of India.
Visakhapatnam is also famous for its seafood, so try Andhra fish curry or prawn fry at a local eatery.
Recommended tour: Araku Valley and Borra Caves from Vishakhapatnam
Ahmedabad holds a unique place in the history of Indian Independence, being Mahatma Gandhi’s home in Sabarmati Ashram.
This is where he carried out several important movements during India’s struggle for independence.
The city’s long history and importance also meant that many buildings and infrastructure facilities like roads and bridges had been constantly used and were due for an upgrade.
Becoming a smart city did precisely that: roads were widened, smart street lighting was introduced, better water and waste management systems were implemented, and the city centre became more accessible through a rapid public transport system.
The redeveloped Sabarmati Riverfront is now great for leisurely walks, cycling and scenic river views.
The Manek Chowk and Law Garden Night Market are good places to shop for traditional textiles, handicrafts, jewellery and Gujarati specialties.
Visit the historic old city of Ahmedabad to get a feel of how the city was in the olden days.
Close to the city, you’ll find unique and intricately designed Adalaj Stepwell and the Dada Harir Stepwells, where you can climb down to the bottom of the well just like in the olden days.
Remember to carry a bottle of water to keep yourself hydrated from all the climbing.
Don’t miss out on savouring local delicacies such as dhokla, khandvi, fafda, and the famous Gujarati thali, in which you can taste a variety of vegetarian dishes bursting with flavours.
- World heritage Ahmedabad city tour – in private car with guide and lunch.
- Food Crawl Ahmedabad – 2 Hours Guided Local Food Tasting Tour.
Kakinada is an important port city on the eastern coast of India and a regional trading hub.
It’s also one of the most well-planned cities in India.
The city is a gateway to Konaseema, also known as “Second Kerala”, because of the region’s resemblance to Kerala’s lush greenery.
Already a well-planned city, Kakinada’s development into a smart city catapulted it from a town with legacy infrastructure to a city with upgraded infrastructure, including better roads and more public transport buses.
The city is where you’ll crave vegetarian and seafood cuisine with dishes like bajji (fritters), Andhra meals and prawn and crab curry.
Kakinada is home to several ancient temples, like the Sri Bhavanarayana Swamy Temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu, that hosts festivals throughout the year.
Don’t miss the sunrise at Uppada Beach, with its golden sands in the morning, and a visit to the Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary for exploring mangroves and a spot of bird watching.
Explore the local markets and shop for unique handicrafts and handloom textiles that will serve as interesting souvenirs.
Pune has historically been politically important, given its mild weather, long heritage and status as an educational hub.
The city is also an IT hub, and it is no wonder that many improvements as a part of the smart city mission are technologically driven.
With initiatives like renewable rooftop solar-powered homes, citizen-friendly mobile apps and intelligent street lighting, Pune is leading the way for the development of smart cities in India.
A visit to Pune’s Shaniwar Wada Palace is a good opportunity to explore Pune’s architectural grandeur and historical importance.
Explore the historical Aga Khan Palace, with its Italian lawns and spacious gardens.
Pune is also known for its art and cultural scene, with numerous art galleries and theatres providing great weekend entertainment.
Pune’s street food includes the famous Misal Pav and Vada Pav, while the traditional Maharashtrian cuisine of Maharashtrian thalis, Puran Poli and the sweet delicacy Shrikhand are a must-try.
- Immersive culture tour of Pune – by private car with guide and local lunch
- Pune Food & Snack Tasting Walking Tour
Vellore is another smart city in Southern India and a hub for healthcare and education.
Vellore is a healthcare hub and sees many foreign students and patients come here for learning or treatment.
Vellore also has a long history dating back to the 9th century and has a mix of various architectural styles in its buildings, like the Vellore Fort.
The 16h century fort fuses Dravidian, Islamic, and European architectural styles.
It is known for its grand ramparts, moat, and iconic Jalakandeswarar Temple.
Before becoming a smart city, Vellore was known for its historical significance but lacked modern infrastructure and services.
However, with the smart city initiatives, Vellore saw improvements in public services, safety and comfortable transportation systems, and user-friendly apps.
What do to? The Government Museum displays of artifacts, sculptures, and ancient relics.
For a break from city life, the Amirthi Zoological Park is a great place to visit for a peaceful weekend close to flora and fauna, especially with kids.
If you like hiking, take a trek or nature walk in the nearby Yelagiri Hills.
Try the famous Vellore-style biryani, a rice preparation known for its aromatic flavours and unique preparation style.
Close to the city of Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad is an upcoming city that has fully integrated the smart cities mission with its growth and development.
Moving up from the basic facilities a decade ago, the city now offers world-class technology-integrated facilities to new businesses and its residents, making it a destination worth visiting.
When visiting Pimpri-Chinchwad, you can explore the Pimpri-Chinchwad Science Park, a unique educational and recreational centre that offers interactive exhibits and scientific demonstrations.
If you like automobiles, a visit to the Auto Cluster Exhibition Centre will quench your curiosity about advancements in the automotive industry.
Pimpri-Chinchwad is also known for its thriving food culture, with various restaurants and eateries serving diverse cuisines like Maharashtrian, Punjabi and South Indian flavours.
Try popular street food items like Vada Pav, Pav Bhaji, and Pani Puri, a staple food for locals.
South India is famous for temples and some of the most beautiful are in Madurai.
Called the “Athens of the East” for its innumerable temples, you’ll find the colourful and intricately designed Meenakshi temple in Madurai, which has been the muse of many paintings and photographs.
With a history going back more than 2500 years ago, the historical city also saw a lot of upgradation in recent years due to the smart cities mission.
Be it efficient energy consumption, or improved safety for locals and tourists, the city is now much cleaner and more tourist-friendly than ever before.
The temple town’s old streets will transport you to the yester years.
Shop for the city’s textiles, handicrafts, and spices for a delicious dose of Madurai.
Don’t miss the opportunity to see the evening Aarti (ritual) at the temple, which is a sight to see.
While in the city, taste the local South Indian delicacies like idli, dosa or any of the spicy South Indian dishes, and wash it down with a glass of Madurai Jigarthanda.
Amaravati is an upcoming city in South India, close to Vijayawada.
The city has a Buddhist heritage dating back to the 2nd century BCE, and the Amaravati Stupa and Amaravati Archaeological Museum are a must-visit if you like to learn more about Buddhism.
As it’s a relatively small city, the smart cities mission helped develop and create many greenfield projects, including brand new roads, public spaces and tourism facilities across the city.
Take a dip in the nearby Krishna River or visit the rock-cut Undavalli caves dating back to the 4th century.
You can also visit Gandhi Hill, a popular tourist spot on top of a hill with a memorial and museum showcasing Mahatma Gandhi’s life and teachings.
The city’s street food scene is quite interesting, and if you are up for it, try one of the spicy Andhra dishes like spicy prawn curry and fish iguru.
Tiruchirappalli is another ancient city with roots dating back over a thousand years.
The city has numerous ancient temples, forts, and palaces that reflect its glorious past, and many are open to tourists.
The city has upgraded its infrastructure through the smart cities mission, making many of its tourist places accessible and tourist-friendly.
The nearby Kaveri river banks and Srirangam island within the river have been beautified and more accessible.
When in Tiruchirappalli, you will notice the prominent landmark of Rock Fort, perched atop a massive rock formation in the city’s centre.
Visit the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple on Srirangam island, and you can claim to have visited one of the largest functioning Hindu temples in the world.
Watch the daily pujas and processions and if you are here during Chithirai Festival, you’ll see the festive atmosphere percolate to every corner of the city.
A stroll along the banks of the Cauvery River and a visit to the Mukkombu dam would be a memorable experiences, especially during the monsoon season.
Like Madurai, Thanjavur is another smart city famous for its temple architecture.
The city is also the birthplace of Carnatic music, a genre of the Indian Classical Music style that focuses on singing and vocals.
The smart cities mission helped the city improve and upgrade its infrastructure, especially its water supply and sewerage system making it a much cleaner and tourist-friendly city.
For impressive architecture, visit the spectacular Brihadeeswara Temple or Big Temple.
You must attend one of the Carnatic music shows during the annual Thyagaraja Music Festival.
The Tanjore painting, a unique and intricate painting style, is another region specialty.
You can explore art galleries and interact with local artists to see the artistic legacy of Thanjavur and pick up a beautiful Tanjore painting for your home as a souvenir.
Thanjavur has its own specialty dishes like Puli Pongal (tamarind rice) and traditional sweets like Kaju Katli and Adhirasam, which are a must-try if you like South Indian food.
Recommended tour: Great Living Chola Temples Around Thanjavur
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